Doing What You Know versus Being Who You Are
I had an aha moment and I want to share it with you.
My brother used to call me a “human doing” because, as a (sort of) recovering Type A personality person, I was always busy. Going, doing, keeping busy. My theme song might have been this quite wonderful song BusyBusyBusy by Kevin Kline (yes, the actor) on Philadelphia Chickens, one of Sandra Boynton‘s albums for children. [You may not have know that the wonderful author Sandra Boynton had albums. They are fabulous! I…I mean, my son…loves them!]
Anyhoo, what I am coming to realize as I get old and sparkly (my hair is sparkly, not grey!) is that I stay busy doing what I know, but that doesn’t always coincide with who I am. And if I am not being who I am, then I’m not really living the most fulfilling life I can.
A long time ago, I remember reading an article (in the pre-blog, tweet, post days) that talked about how compelling it is to ask people to answer a simple question and that their answer to this question reveals a lot about them. So I’m going to ask you this question and–without thinking about it long and hard–tell me what the first answer is that pops into your head. Or don’t. No pressure. Ready for the question? Ok, here it is. Remember, don’t think. Just react…
Who are you?
What was your knee-jerk, gut reaction answer to that question? It might have been something like:
– I’m a woman
– I’m a dad
– I’m a Christian
– I’m a free spirit
– I’m an accountant
Now think harder about the question. Did you really answer “who you are?” Or did you answer the questions “what you know?” or “what you do?”
Whatever your answer was or is (and you are welcome to change your answer now–I’m not the thought police), think about how you spend your time. Are you spending your time doing things that make the most of who you are? Or are you spending time doing what you know?
As an example, I know about crisis preparedness and legal issues for the meetings, hospitality, and tourism industry. I spend a lot of time on those topics–researching, writing, editing, teaching, social media-ing (it’s my blog, I can make that a verb).
But that’s not who I am. I am: a writer, a mother, a wife, a stifled creative, an educator, a speaker, an anti-authoritarian…and a few things that maybe I won’t publish here lest we get off track.
My aha moment came when I realized that when I’m just doing what I know, I am less happy than when I am being who I am. Which in turn reminded me of this wonderful quote:
“If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” —Hillel the Elder
If not now, when indeed?